Monday, April 07, 2008

AZ State IDPA Championship

OK, while I haven't mentioned it here, I have been working the last few months on prepping myself for the State Championship. I am realistic enough to know that I'll never be one of the better shooters--I simply am not willing to spend that kind of money or time on a hobby--I am also vain enough to like to think of myself as "OK". A state championship is a good place to show oneself the folly of that vanity. Simply put: I suck. And I hate it that I do.

I admit to a number of handicaps here...
  • I have never been an athlete, I am almost 51 years old, and I confess to carrying roughly an extra 25 pounds. This makes me slow.
  • Being in my 50's, my eyesight is becoming an issue. This means, while I may, hypothetically, be able to "call" my shots, I often find that I cannot see whether what I have "called" is really what happened at the target.
  • Rather than use an Outside-the-Waistband holster, as 98% of the IDPA shooters do, I prefer the Inside-the-Waistband holster I use for concealed carry. This too slows me down.
  • Most critically, I used my recently purchased DAO HK USP Compact in .40S&W.
This last point really hurt. I have been struggling, especially with long shots to get shots on target. I've been known to miss ("Mike", in IDPA parlance) targets entirely. Apparently, I am not meant to use a DAO action in competition. It is just too much for me to keep the aim on target while pulling through that trigger load while under the pressure of the clock. The USP is a fine machine, but regrettably, sometime later this year, I may be looking for something else. I hate to be the guy who blames his equipment for his competition failures, and, again, fully acknowledging that I will never be one of the best (or even top-half) shooters in the group, but for me I do think it is the wrong gun for me.

So, enough about me...more about the match and the other competitors...

The match did not move along as well as I had hoped. One of the first announcements was that we were going to be grouped into squads of 20 or so, and that keeping the squads together would help move things along. That lasted exactly one stage. After shooting the first three stages, we waited 45 minutes before lunch was served, and then another hour to get to the fourth of our 12 stages. They did get stages 1-3 (the fourth stage I shot) moving more quickly just as we were finishing them, but I'm sure that we wasted 2 hours there. Waiting to shoot did not help me shoot any better. I was able to get all but one stage done on Saturday, and on Sunday morning, at my last stage I sucked as badly as I had on the previous 11.

One highlight was the opportunity to shoot with Donnie Burton (upper left). Who is Donnie Burton, you ask? He's the reigning IDPA National Overall Champion. (For those who golf, imagine golfing with Tiger Woods.) From watching him, and speaking with his father, he is both a very focused competitor, and a really nice kid. He was more than willing to answer questions (that he must have to endure at every match) and was probing the rest of us for what we saw in our turns shooting. To get an idea of just how focused he is, get this...
  • Like NASCAR and golf, IDPA has a "season". In preparation for the season, Donnie shoots a thousand rounds a day. Yep. That's not a typo. A friggin' thousand rounds each day. Every day...all seven of 'em. When he's finished with that week, he starts it all over again.
  • Do the math with me. A thousand rounds means you load a 10 round magazine a hundred times a day.
  • More math. Donnie shoots a custom 1911 platform in 9mm. A thousand rounds of this stuff would, if you had to buy it (Donnie has an endorsement deal) run $199 from one of my favorite internet ammo sources. That's $200 dollars a day. Every day.
  • None of that counts the incidentals used here. Cleaning patches, solvents, magazine springs, etc. all add up when you're shooting that much.
  • Donnie has a program of running, weight training, and diet to keep in fit enough for this level of competition.
  • While in a match, he eats tuna, fruit or something else about every two hours to keep his blood-sugar levels constant.
To top off the frustration I had at my poor shooting performance, I didn't even "raffle" all that well. I was part of the last 10 or so shooters who had not been called for the prize table raffle, and rather than call us all the way down to the end, the Match Director just said for us to "clean the table". I came home with a reasonable cleaning kit that I gave to SonofAzlib, a hat that barely fits my head, a t-shirt that fits me, but has an oil stain on it, and one of the dumbest videos Gunsite has ever produced.

I enjoyed the championship, as frustrating as it was for me. I'll plan now on attending next year, but it won't be with a DAO gun. I'll go back to carrying and competing with my Glock 23, and maybe sometime later this year (after I get Dau#1ofAzlib married off and sell some of my safe queens), I'll start thinking about something in a 1911 platform.

Better luck next year.

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